Glenwood PD’s Blake block succeeds
September 21, 2017
The Glenwood Springs police chief says that holding back traffic at Eighth Street and Cooper Avenue for the past few days to discourage afternoon commuters from taking Blake Avenue has greatly improved the functioning of the downtown detour.
Police officers directing traffic in downtown on Monday began holding back traffic coming from Blake Avenue during the afternoon commute, letting only a few vehicles through at a time. Some drivers heading downvalley tried to save time by going two blocks east of the detour's official route on Grand Avenue, then cutting back onto Grand.
"Especially on Tuesday, it was very well improved, exactly what we were looking for," Chief Terry Wilson said.
However, Blake Avenue was a little more clogged again Wednesday afternoon.
"After the big splash on social media about how well it worked, how few cars there were on Blake, it seemed to have inspired some people to come back to Blake and try it," Wilson said. "They figured they'd be the only ones. Of course that never quite turns out."
Afternoon traffic on Blake was again sparse during the Thursday commute.
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Wilson said that holding back that Blake Avenue traffic "has greatly improved our functionality at Eighth and Grand," which is a critical downtown intersection for the afternoon rush. It's much easier for fire vehicles and ambulances to get in and out of the firehouse at Eighth and Cooper without the detour bypass traffic. And buses navigating that area from the Amtrak station have been able to get through and stay on schedule, said Wilson.
Of course, not everyone caught up in the Blake Avenue traffic was an afternoon commuter traveling downvalley. Many drivers actually live in the neighborhoods east of Grand or are people trying to get to businesses downtown.
As usual, Facebook commenters had differing perspectives on the issues. And not everyone was buying the concept that slowing traffic on Blake would be beneficial in the long run.
"So if you use businesses in that area you (lose) and so do they," Arla Cross commented on the Post Independent's Tuesday story. "No more eating at restaurants in that area until bridge is done for me. Sorry businesses in downtown officials just screwed you again," she wrote.
"Great!! That means locals can't take (Blake) to (their) homes anymore???" wrote Amanda Anderson Waymire.
"The whole point of this is to encourage those with no business being on Blake to stay off it so those who have legitimate reasons to utilize it can. As someone who lives east of Grand, I'm all for it," wrote Ksana Oglesby.
"It's about time!!!! The entrances and exits to Valley View Hospital are blocked through out the day due to the heavy traffic on Blake," wrote Annette Zoller.
"I live off (Midland), my dad lives on Blake, and I'm regularly (trying) to shuffle kiddos and things between the two. It's brutal," Erin Anderson commented on Facebook.
On Monday "we decided to brave the traffic to support downtown businesses and we were trapped on Blake forever!!" wrote Savannah Rippy Huebsch. "… it did seem like a punishment. (We weren't detour dodgers.) I get it, but now I really don't want to go downtown. On a brighter note, the (Glenwood police) are super nice and upbeat directing traffic in the heat."
Randy Perry, a man visiting from Las Vegas with some motorcycling companions, made the PI's front page Tuesday. Perry wanted to clarify that he wasn't trying to dodge the detour route, but rather he was a tourist who was trying to get to the Hotel Denver. After driving through the detour from Interstate 70, he and his friends were caught up in the Blake Avenue slowdown for about 40 minutes.
Others thought that commuters should be barred from driving on Blake and ticketed if they do.
"So basically these people will be idling for over (two to three) hours in front of our house," commented Matt Soltesz. "They should be issued tickets by mail following taking pictures of their license plates."
However, driving down Blake Avenue during the detour is not illegal. It's a public road, and you cannot get a ticket simply for using it. Police had similar issues with drivers trying to use the southern portion of Midland Avenue to skip much of the afternoon detour. What police can and are doing in both cases is heavily favoring traffic on the official detour route, trying to encourage drivers to modify their own behavior.
"We'll monitor it for a few more days and see how it goes, but so far everything looks pretty positive," said Wilson.
"Only (two) more months there are a lot better things to complain about (than) having to wait in traffic," Chris McGruder commented.
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